Jul 2012 20

Real Estate Jargon

Posted by
Scrabble Jargon by Wil Taylor Scrabble Jargon by Wil Taylor

In your years of life the true meanings of some coded terminology have become glaringly obvious. When a weight loss program promises you’ll lose 30 pounds in 30 days — you know you can safely assume you’re more likely to lose three and then gain back seven. And when an unnamed caller announces you’ve won a one week trip to Bora Bora — you can rest assured the chances you’ll wind up having a thousand bucks disappear from your bank account are far greater than the possibility you’ll spend even a day on the beach. But there is some terminology you may not be quite as familiar with. The real estate market uses all kinds of confusing and misleading jargon which can leave you frustrated and lacking in the home of your dreams. But no longer! Read on to find out what some of the most bizarre and confusing real estate terms really mean.


Cozy is such a lovely word… but not necessarily when it comes to real estate. If a place is listed as having “cozy bedrooms”, chances are you’ll be hard pressed to fit a queen size bed. And a “cozy kitchen” may indicate two people cooking at the same time isn’t an option.

“Motivated seller”

A “motivated seller” wants that place gone. The seller is either in a rush to get rid of the place or it has been on the market for far too long. This is a situation where negotiation is far more likely to work in your favor.

“Recently remodeled”

This is a tricky one. The line “recently remodeled” may mean that the place has been freshly renovated and will require little work on your part. But it could also mean that the cupboards, faucets and appliances have been replaced with poor-quality items that improve the look but will almost certainly break down in a few years. Proceed with caution.


When you see an ad boasting of how “quaint” a place is, the true meaning of the word is “small and outdated”. The chances it is an itty bitty space with shag carpets and cupboards that haven’t been updates since the ‘70s greatly exceed the chances that it possesses the lovely old-fashioned quality you are looking for.

“Unique layout”

Words by Dominic Fuchs Words by Dominic Fuchs

If the “unique” quality of the layout is too bizarre to name in the ad, chances are it isn’t overly desirable. It may be that one of the bedrooms doesn’t have a door or can only be accessed through another room. Whatever it is, get ready to brace yourself.

“Two bedroom/Bedroom + den”

If both of these terms are mentioned in the same listing, assume it is the “bedroom + den” that applies. Many people try to pass off a den as a second, smaller bedroom. But unless you are looking for a baby’s room it will likely be far too small to count as a second bedroom.

“Walking distance from public transportation”

Listers can be very loose with the term “walking distance”. Make sure to ask where the aforementioned transportation is and test it out for yourself. They may have gravely underestimated how long it takes. It is also wise to check how often the bus or streetcar comes. It may very well only come every 45 minutes to an hour and that won’t get you far in a hurry.

“Fully renovated”

Be careful when approaching a place that uses this phrase. To some people “fully renovated” may simply mean they re-carpeted and painted the walls and hope to charge a lot more because of it. If they’re claiming the place has been fully renovated, make sure you find out if they also updated the wiring, plumbing, etc. in the process.

“Highway adjacent”

This phrase may mean a quick drive will get you on the highway, but it may also mean you’ll have to deal with screeching tires and the rumble of trucks all day and night. If the home you are looking at is near the highway, make sure you sit in silence for a few moments to ensure you are completely comfortable with the volume level.

“Fully furnished”

If you aren’t in the mood to hunt down furniture, investing in a furnished place can be a great asset — if you like the furniture. Furnishings add to the price so make sure you want all the pieces before you accept the terms.


The term “modern” can mean a wide range of things in the real estate world. It could mean it has the open-concept look and stainless steel appliances you’ve been hunting for. But it could also mean the place is speckled with a variety of odd colours and bizarre shapes. You will definitely want to ask what they mean by “modern” before you get too excited.


Jargon by Gavin Llewellyn Jargon by Gavin Llewellyn

Although the term sounds sweet and endearing, very few people use “well-loved” to describe a home that appears clean and new. All too often it ends up referring to a home that has certainly been “well-lived-in” and that can cause it to seem dirty and old. When you see this term being thrown around, it’s safe to say it may be well-loved but it may not be something you will love.

“Private setting”

When you hear that a place is being marketed as “private”, it could mean it’s simply on a quiet crescent or down a dead-end. But it could also mean that you’d be living in what can only be described as “the middle of nowhere”. You will definitely want to find out if there is a distinction before you proceed.

“A handyman’s dream”

Sadly, this is often a positive way of saying that the place requires a lot of work. And even if you or a member of your family is considered to be “handy”, it may need a pricey renovation more than a few quick fixes. Proceed with caution as this type of home may be a risky investment.

“Must-see inside”

If the seller is really pushing the beautiful interior, there is a very good chance the exterior leaves something to be desired. They have likely been dealing with months-worth of people being too turned off by the outside to even consider the place. If you aren’t too concerned about curb-appeal then there’s no need to worry but if you do appreciate an attractive front, it may not be the place for you.

All this being said, there are exceptions to every rule. You don’t necessarily have to rule out a place because it’s filled with confusing jargon, but having an idea of what you can expect to find certainly doesn’t hurt!

One Response to “Real Estate Jargon”

  1. Gavin Llewellyn

    Hey Jay, great post!

    It’s good to get an ‘inside scoop’ on some of the jargon and buzzwords used in the real estate world. I agree it can be a minefield and your post is very useful for laymen like me do that we know what to look for the next time we’re in the market for a new home.

    Thank you for using my picture and getting in touch. I feel honoured my picture was used in a post of this quality.



Leave a Reply

* required